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posted: 1/29/2014 5:30 AM

Fox warms up to cold-weather Super Bowl

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  • The broadcast team of Super Bowl XLVIII includes Joe Buck, left, Erin Andrews, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver.

      The broadcast team of Super Bowl XLVIII includes Joe Buck, left, Erin Andrews, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver.

 
By George Dickie, Zap2it

First, let us dispense with the obvious. Yes, Super Bowl XLVIII is being played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the first modern-era NFL championship game to be held outdoors in a cold-weather locale. And yes, if it snows, rains, blows or ices, the people on the field and in the stands will get cold, wet and maybe even frozen.

Passing games could be disrupted, and players' footing might not be great. Such is life when you hold a football game in February in the northern half of the country.

But if you're the people at Fox, which broadcasts the season-ending title game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Feb. 2, you're also looking at this location as a tremendous opportunity. Tremendous in that you're using New York -- and all that entails -- as your backdrop, a rich canvas on which to work.

"It's just different there," says Joe Buck, who will provide play-by-play alongside analyst Troy Aikman and with reporter Pam Oliver on the Fox game telecast, "and I get it with New Orleans, and I get it with Arizona. I understand having this kind of block party feel is great for the Super Bowl.

"But having it in, in my estimation, the greatest city in the world, that has everything to it and to stage this event all over that area -- it's not just obviously in Jersey, it's in downtown, it's in Manhattan, it's all over the place. So to me it's exciting, and when you get New York involved and you get New Yorkers involved, I just think it intensifies the spotlight, and people want to check out what's going on."

Much of what's going on in the Big Apple, at least on the Fox end, will be held at a broadcast compound created for the occasion in Times Square, which will be used as the home base for much of the pregame and game-day programming. Traffic will be closed off to part of the Crossroads of the World on Sunday, but John Entz, executive vice president of production for Fox Sports, wonders if that might be the only indication to New Yorkers that the big game is nearby.

"I'll be really interested to see," Entz says, "if you're walking around the most active/busy city in the world, if you'll be able to tell that there's a Super Bowl there that week. I've been to New York events plenty of times, and you know what? It's another event that's a couple of streets over. New York can sort of swallow an event, and I'll be really curious to see if it's obvious walking around New York City that there's a Super Bowl that week."

Another opportunity, as strange as it might sound, is the unpredictable Northeast winter weather, which was the source of some controversy when the site was chosen three years ago. Some argue that foul weather might not put the league's product in the best possible light on its biggest day, but Fox is embracing the possibility of snow or cold as another character in the storyline.

"It's a very viewer-friendly story," Entz says. "So even if you go back to the wild-card game (in the 6-degree cold of Lambeau Field on Jan. 5 between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers), which broke all types of records, watching the guys play in the elements makes for compelling television. When there's rain or snow or sleet or hail, it makes for compelling television.

"So we want the weather to be just good enough so the people in the stadium are enjoying it but also so people at home can see the elements. It'd be the perfect combination."

"I like the element of maybe surprise or the element of just the unknown," Buck adds, "and going into a game like that and kind of girding for the weather. If it snows, I think it's great.

"I think the only thing that scares anybody in and around the game is ice," Buck continues, "and if it's not just iced in, if it snows and it's cold, then it's football and that's fine. In my opinion, that just comes with the sport."

As for the possibility of the elements disrupting the teams' passing games, Buck says, "then run the ball better, then play better defense. I mean, that's just a part of dealing with what you're handed, and both teams will play in it, and so I feel like that's just the way it goes."

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